Boston University’s Islamophobic Pro-Israeli Conference – by Stephen Lendman
A personal note. I grew up in Boston from the mid-1930s – mid-1950s through college. Then after military service and summer courses at BU, out-of-town grad school followed in the fall.
It was a different time, good and bad. Eisenhower was still president. Unemployment was low. Anyone wanting work found it. Most years the economy grew during a post-WW II expansion. Inflation was low. The average new car cost $1,500, a typical home under $10,000. College was affordable. Harvard’s 1952 full year tuition was $600. Four years later it was $1,000 – for a full, two-semester year. During the period, anyone could attend evenings at $5 a course and get a Harvard degree for about $175, the way my mother did it, graduating with me in the same class, the first ever mother and son to do it.
America was unchallenged economically, its manufacturing base offering high paying/good benefits jobs. Union representation was high. The South and US northern cities were segregated. They still are, all 1960s civil rights gains lost plus most good jobs and benefits. Alaska and Hawaii additions grew America to 50 states.
The Korean War left an unsettled armistice. Cold War politics settled in. Developing “mutually assured destruction (MAD)” and accommodation prevented WW III. Censure ruined Joe McCarthy, and by May 1957 he was dead at age 48. The CIA’s first coup deposed Iran’s Mohammad Mosaddegh. A generation of terror followed. A year later, another toppled Guatemala’s Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, fueling decades of genocide against its indigenous peoples.
Throughout the decade, few followed Vietnam events, its defeat of France, America’s growing involvement, what became three decades of war. Palestinian Territories weren’t occupied, and during the period Israel was young, growing, but mostly out of the news and public mind. With today’s one-sided Western support, times indeed have changed, for the worse, not better, including in academia.
For example, noted professors like Norman Finkelstein, Joel Kovel and Canada’s Denis Rancourt, among others, lost jobs for supporting Palestine, universities tolerating no Israeli opposition no matter how justified. Moreover, Zionized Yale, among other activities and curricula studies, has an Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA) at a time evidence shows it at a historic low.
Nonetheless, it holds regular seminars and conferences, including last August for three days on campus, featuring pro-Israeli zealots, omitting Palestinian supporters, and letting hatemongers rail on topics like radical Islam, genocidal antisemitism, the Iranian threat, and much more throughout a 72 hour hatefest.
Boston University’s (BU) Pro-Israeli Conference
Not to be outdone, on October 10 and 11, BU hosted its own. Sponsored by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), a Boston-based pro-Israeli media lobby, it bogusly claims to be “non-partisan….regard(ing)….American or Israeli political issues, (taking no position) regard(ing)….ultimate solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
In fact, by shamelessly supporting Israel, it monitors media reports globally for one purpose – to combat all “anti-Israeli bias.” CAMERA tolerates none, no matter how justified, targeting journalists, editors, producers and publishers, demanding “distorted or inaccurate coverage” be retracted and replaced by “factual information to refute errors.” For CAMERA, it means uncompromising Israeli support, or be hounded, condemned or replaced. With considerable funding and thousands of members, it has plenty of lethal firepower and no reluctance to use it ruthlessly.
Its conference theme was “War By Other Means: The Global Campaign to Delegitimize Israel,” referring to growing initiatives like the Global BDS Movement, the International and Palestine Solidarity Movements, and others. They’re gaining strength after incidents like Cast Lead, the May Gaza Flotilla massacre, the Gaza siege and isolation of Palestine’s legitimate Hamas government, and daily assaults against Palestinian civilians – unpunished crimes of war and against humanity by any standard.
With global outrage growing, CAMERA says “Israel faces a convergence of global forces that may undermine its legitimacy in the eyes of the world community.” So it sponsored a two day conference, featuring notorious pro-Israeli Islamophobes and other extremists, spreading hate-filled propaganda for the price of admission – $50 per day or a flat $25 for students, those helping out attending free, including lunches. What a deal to be indoctrinated free of charge.
CAMERA and twenty other organizations co-sponsored the event, including campus Hillels, Hadassah, local synagogues, the Israeli New England consulate, and Zionist Organization of America, the oldest and one of largest US pro-Israeli groups with over 30,000 members throughout the country – a coalition of pro-Israeli zealotry, intolerant of opposing views.
CAMERA’s Speaker Lineup from Hell
Beginning early on Sunday, October 10, Maxine Wolf and Rabbi Joseph Polak delivered opening remarks. Wolf is a member of CAMERA’s executive board, Polak a BU-based Hillel director.
Lead speaker was Alan Dershowitz, a notorious bigot, an earlier article calling him:
— a purveyor of myths, canards, false logic, and hate;
— a misinterpreter of fundamental law standards;
— a believer in unique Jewish suffering, mindless of all others;
— an advocate of torture, targeted assassinations, land theft and dispossessions; and
— a committed Zionist and Israeli apologist, legitimizing its aggression, its worst crimes and abuses, believing that “international law, and those who administer it, must understand that (in times of war) the old rules” don’t apply against “fanatical foes.”
He also defends preemptive wars, no matter how lawless, calling the UN Charter’s 51 (limiting attacks to self-defense) “anachronistic, (a) mid-twentieth century view of international law” inapplicable to today’s threats. In other words, on matters affecting Israel, no law applies, threat or no threat.
Yigal Carmon was next, president and founder of the Middle East Research Institute (MEMRI), its board and advisors including a rogue’s gallery of pro-Israeli zealots like Elliot Abrams, Ehud Barak, James Woolsey, John Bolton, John Ashcroft, Michael Mukasey, and Elie Wiesel, a man Norman Finklestein calls “vain, arrogant, gullible, naive about international affairs, (and defender of) the worst excesses of previous Israeli governments.”
Daniel Pipes followed Yigal, a man Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) included in its October 2008 report titled, “Smearcasting: How Islamophobes spread fear, bigotry and misinformation.”
Founder of the Middle East Forum, an extremist think tank promoting US Middle East interests, including “fighting radical Islam; working for Palestinian acceptance of Israel….combat(ing) lawful Islamism,” and other hard right positions, he preaches hateful zealotry. Besides writing op-eds for The New York Times and other major publications, he’s interviewed often on mainstream radio and television from CNN to PBS and NPR. He defends racially profiling Arab-Americans, and once said in a National Review article (11/19/90) that:
“Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange food and maintaining different standards of hygiene….All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.”
Dershowitz, Yigal, and Pipes set the tone for like-minded participants to follow, including:
— Andrea Levin, a CAMERA director;
— Philippe Karsenty, Media-Ratings founder, doing the same type monitoring in France that CAMERA does globally;
— Anne Bayefsky, a right-wing pro-Israeli zealot, senior fellow at the neocon Hudson Institute, associated with UN Watch devoted to attacking anti-Israeli criticism, and member of the Israel-based Ariel Center for Policy Research, a Likud Party-affiliated group supporting hardline writers in the Middle East, North America and Europe;
— Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, a notorious pro-Israeli group;
— Melanie Phillips, an extremist journalist, author, and defender of pro-Western “values” over others she disdains;
— Manfred Gerstenfeld, chairman of the Board of Fellows at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a pro-Israeli think tank, publishing material like “The Rise of Nuclear Iran: How Tehran Defies the West.” He’s also an Institute for Global Jewish Affairs director, supporting the myth of worldwide antisemitism and various pro-Israeli initiatives;
— Mark Steyn, a Canadian writer, political commentator and cultural critic, supporting a pro-Israeli agenda;
— Irwin Cotler, a Canadian MP and former Minister of Justice and Attorney General;
— Yaakov Kirschen, a Jerusalem Post cartoonist and drybonesblog.blogspot.com creator, saying on May 18, 2009 that: “Palestinians are not prepared or able to build a modern, democratic state that could live in peace with a Jewish State of Israel,” among other hateful comments;
— Kenneth Levin, a Harvard Medical School instructor and writer on Israeli/Arab issues, supporting the former over the latter;
— Alvin H. Rosenfeld, a professor of English and Jewish Studies and director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism at Indiana University, promoting the myth of its resurgence, saying a “phenomenon of this scope and consequence demands sustained scrutiny at the highest scholarly levels;”
— Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a Hebrew and Jewish Studies lecturer, board member of the pro-Israeli Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, and chairman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Campus Outreach Advisory Council, involved in “combatting the rise of campus anti-Semitism;”
— Alex Safian, CAMERA’s research and associate directors; and
— Bret Stephens, a hard right Wall Street Journal deputy editorial page editor and foreign affairs contributor; earlier, he was editor-in-chief of the right wing Jerusalem Post.
— Israel and the Case for Moral Clarity;
— Radicals and Reformists: Trends and Challenges;
— The Islamic Background;
— Examining Israel: From The New York Times to Aftonbladet and The Huffington Post;
— Pallywood and Mumammad al-Durah;
— The United Nation’s War on Israel;
— NGO Biases, the Halo Effect and Israel;
— The British Hijacking of Reason;
— Is a New, Criminal Europe Emerging?
— The City Besieged: Israel and the War on the West;
— Countering the Legal Assault on Israel;
— Fighting on the Front Lines: Responding to Campus Anti-Semitism;
— What Walt and Mearsheimer Hath Wrought;
— Jewish Defamers of Israel: Roots and Branches;
— Jews at Sea: Reflections on Israel’s Jewish Detractors and Defamers;
— A Cartoonist View of Jewish Defamers;
— Making Israel’s Case, the Smart Way;
— Mainstream Churches and Israel;
— Blogging, Social Media and Israel;
— Getting Published in the Mainstream Media and Making an Impact On-Line; and
— The Spanish-Language Media and Effective Activism.
A Final Comment
On October 10, BU Students for Justice in Palestine, American Jews for a Just Peace, ItisApartheid, and other local pro-Palestinian groups protested against CAMERA’s conference.
In front of BU’s Metcalf Hall in the George Sherman Union, the conference venue, they simulated a mock apartheid wall, symbolizing Israel’s Separation Wall, surrounding and isolating West Bank communities, as well as stealing 12% of their land when completed.
They also chanted “BU, US, it’s time for BDS,” “Hey BU you’ve been had, Dershowitz is WICKED bad,” and the politically oriented Brass Liberation Orchestra accompanied protesters as they sang, held banners, and distributed fliers.
Like Yale last August, BU lent its name to a two day hate fest, featuring Islamophobes supporting apartheid, lawlessness, aggressive wars, isolation, land theft, dispossessions, mass imprisonment, torture, targeted assassinations, and decades of slow-motion genocide of Palestinian civilians. For 48 hours, truth, equity and justice were nowhere in sight. Complicit BU was the venue for the worst of hatemongering viciousness.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.